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ATM break-ins: mask hurdle for police

Cops worried about the difficulty the protective gear poses in identifying criminals
“Earlier, it was rare to find someone in a mask trying such ATM break-ins. Even if someone did try, he/she could be identified by scanning footage of various CCTVs because at some point he/she would have removed the mask,” a city police officer said.

Monalisa Chaudhuri   |   Calcutta   |   Published 02.06.20, 09:04 PM

There were break-in attempts at two ATM kiosks in the city and CCTV cameras had captured pictures of the culprits. But police could not identify them because of their face masks.

It is now mandatory to wear a mask in public because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Both break-in attempts in the past few days had failed but cops are worried about the difficulty masks pose in identifying criminals, the police said.

“Earlier, it was rare to find someone in a mask trying such ATM break-ins. Even if someone did try, he/she could be identified by scanning footage of various CCTVs because at some point he/she would have removed the mask,” a city police officer said.

In these two break-ins, the CCTV footage could not help identify the masked men, the officer said.

Earlier, it would have been odd if someone wore a mask after committing a crime or attempting to do so. So, the person would have done away with the mask once he/she was on the road, the officer said.

One of the break-in attempts was in the Hare Street police station area while the other was in the Burtolla police station area.

In both cases, a man had entered the kiosk and tried to break into the machine but failed.

The ATM kiosks of Andhra Bank near India Exchange Place and Central Bank of India in Gauribari Lane in Ultadanga did not have security guards but the alarms at both kiosks went off the moment someone tried to break into the machines, the police said.

CCTV cameras have been instrumental in detecting several crimes in the past like that of capturing the faces of Russian nationals — suspected to be involved in ATM skimming scam — at ATM kiosks.

Using cameras to identify people involved in snatching, burglary and theft or rioting, arson and damaging public property is common. “CCTV grabs played crucial roles in identifying the people involved in smashing the bust of Vidyasagar at Vidyasagar College,” an officer said.

The incidence of “traditional” crimes that had dipped during the lockdown will gradually rise as more people step out on the roads, according to some police officers.

It will be a challenge to identify suspects in a sea of people wearing masks, an officer said. Preparing sketches of suspects will be difficult in future, another officer said.

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